What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the whole movie amounts to a glorification of thievery. Not one character questions whether it's morally right to pull off the big casino robbery, just whether they can get away with it. In accord with the studio censorship codes of yesteryear, though, crime does not pay in the end (except a modest handout to an innocent, struggling widow). The Las Vegas "fun city" ambiance of gambling and high times is robustly present, with much drinking, smoking, and other grownup pursuits idealized. Note that the casinos are shown behaving legally and ethically, even forbidding a prominent celebrity (comic Red Skelton, portraying himself) from exceeding his betting limit. That little vignette is as close as it comes to a Gamblers Anonymous PSA. Households who disapprove of gambling altogether still won't be happy. Neither will those sensitive to the male characters' occasional denigration of women and a few racial gags made at Sammy Davis Jr.'s expense.
- Families can talk about the popularity of Ocean's Eleven in its time. Do kids today find the actor-entertainers all that charming? Are their swaggering ways and attitudes toward women still "cool," or backwards and embarrassing? You can also discuss the enduring appeal of caper movies. Consider the ironic twist ending and Hollywood's old studio-censorship rule that dictated outlaws could never be allowed to succeed in the end (the George ClooneyOcean's Eleven remake and sequels didn't have this problem). Why do you think clever lawbreaking and heists became especially popular on movie screens in the rebellious 1960s?